One of the lamest forms of discourse is sliming your opponent as a stooge of capitalistic or other assumed-to-be-evil interests. Professors Farber, Katz, Yoo, and Faulhaber have been attacked as shills by Jeff Chester on account of their publishing a well-reasoned Op-Ed in the Washington Post opposing new Internet regulations:
Super cable monopoly Comcast hired UC Berkeleyâ€™s Katz in 2003 to produce research which placed the industry in favorable light. Comcast, of course, opposes network neutrality [I cover the role of Katz and other communications -academics-for -industry hire in my new book, btw]. Professor Yoo worked for the cable lobby NCTA last year to write a net neutrality study as well. Even Davd Farber should have disclosed he has spoken under the banner of the Verizon Foundation at Carnegie Mellon.
Note that Chester’s smear of Farber consists solely of the professor’s giving one of a series of lectures at his university sponsored by Verizon (UPDATE: Farber was not compensated for this lecture in any way. He frequently gives talks for no honorarium, even to Microsoft after testifying against them. Chester’s smear is asinine.)
Chester’s trick often works in a capitalist society because we’re awash in money and somebody’s always paying somebody else. Chester himself makes his living writing books and giving talks on the evils of capitalism, and apparently does pretty well at it. Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky are both multi-millionaires from that very same pursuit.
In the network neutrality debate, one could point out that Google employees give thousands of dollars to Moveon.org, a primary supporter of Save the Internet, or that the other primary supporter, Free Press, is financially supported by the Schuman Foundation headed by Bill Moyers, who’s paid $200,000 a year for this virtuous task. Moyers aired a program on PBS that was a naked advertisement for Free Press, and spoke at Free Press’ National Conference on Media Reform funded by multi-billionaire currency trader George Soros’ Open Society Institute. One might argue that Soros wants to weaken investigative journalism so he can engage in legally questionable currency raiding without restrictions, so he supports a cause that would erode the financial basis of real investigative journalism.
According to Jeff Chester’s analysis, that’s the only way to understand net neutrality: I’m following the money (and Speaking Truth to Power, dude!)
I don’t buy that, so I’ll have to follow the arguments and judge them on their merits.